The way in which children of different religions and races unite to create a harmonious society
Colourblind is the story of three young women whose lives are all very different. They are introduced to the audience at their first meeting, when friendship seems unlikely. However, they overcome obstacles such as religion and race to embark on a friendship, which teaches them about life, love and loss. Each character struggles with their own personal antagonist. For this piece, we drew upon many different sources of inspiration, some being course content, the works of theatrical practitioners such as Stanislavski, to outside sources such as films and newspapers.
We have been inspired by many parts of everyday life, from religion and oppression to sexuality and love. We have used both personal experiences and external influences. The original stimulus to our original ideas was the way in which children of different religions and races unite to create a harmonious society within our school. We discussed the situation within a small area, such as a school and it was agreed that this could be viewed as a microcosm of society. We also felt this subject, due to educational value, could be beneficial to both ourselves and the audience due to its large coverage in the media recently.
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We were inspired by other performances, such as Three Sisters by Chekhov. We studied this particular play for several reasons. Firstly, the style that Chekhov writes in is that of a melodrama and therefore we felt we felt our ideas could relate to those used in Three Sisters. The use of naturalism throughout inspired the realistic behaviour we intend to achieve between the charcaters in our piece. We also looked closely at the relationship between the three sisters, which is similar to the friendships among the three girls featured in our play.
The way Chekhov portrays the character differences between the sisters inspired us to consider our presentation of Yaz, Mel and Scarlett. Sophocles’ Antigone was inspiring in the sense we were able to view alternative ways in which to depict the story of a heroine who is treated badly for her beliefs. Both Sophocles’ Antigone and Chekhov’s Three Sisters inspired the use of symbolism. We have incorporated symbolism into our production with the use of costume. The costumes in the ancient Greek theatre have a symbolic significance in the way the production is understood.
The most essential part of their disguise was the mask, which inspired the use of the headscarf and masks within our piece. The headscarf is symbolic of Yaz’s faith and beliefs, whereas we used the masks to symbolise the lack of identity of Yaz’s attackers, but they were also used so members of the group could portray different characters. We discussed The Color Purple by Alice Walker in view of the racial attitudes and attacks it features. The storyline helped us understand the effects of racism on individuals, both emotionally and physically.
We gained a greater understanding of discrimination from The Color Purple. We have aimed to create a melodrama. The themes of dramas can be exaggerated within melodramas, and the liberal uses of music often enhance emotional plots. We have used music and audio throughout Colourblind to increase the effect the performance can have upon the audience. Victims in melodramas are presented with tremendous social pressures, threats, repression, fears, or difficulties with friends or family.
We have mirrored this in Colourblind, representing Yaz’s attempt to balance her religion with the pressures of growing up in an unaccepting society. Mel struggles with her father, whos strict views she wants to escape and Scarlett constantly battles with the need to be thin, pretty, and to wear the correct brands of clothing. The melodramatic format allows all of the charcaters to work through their difficulties or overcome the problems with determined endurance, sacrificial acts, and steadfast bravery.
Our dramatic aims and objectives with this piece are to present a dramatic interpretation of racial issues in a modern day society, incorporating controversial and political views, which are presented with the use of both realistic and surrealistic techniques. Our main aim is to make the audience aware of issues such as discrimination, domestic violence and oppression, which the majority of people are oblivious to within everyday life, and the minority must face daily. Our aim is to above entertain, educate. Our primary target is to incite emotion, which in turn will generate a positive reaction from the audience.
We feel this is possible if we create a feeling of empathy towards the characters from the audience. We decided to exhibit the stories of both the victim and the attacker to outline the causes and outcomes of prejudice and discrimination. There are certain emotions, as a group, we feel are essential to the success of our performance – anger, sympathy and hope. In order to achieve this, we have focused upon these emotions within our piece. The group also wanted to create a range of moods and atmospheres to help the audience experience the emotional trauma suffered by those involved.
Each character in Colourblind battles with oppression, which is our principal theme. Oppression is exerted in many different ways, by many different sources and we wish to illuminate some of these with in aim of educating our audience. Other themes which we have incorporated into our piece are racism – experienced by Yaz, family control – by Mel, media authority – by Scarlett and social pressures – encountered mostly by Mel’s father. One way in which we have presented the themes is with the use of dramatic techniques.
Techniques which we are experiementing with include stylised and choreographed movement, freezeframes, monologues and voice montages. We are exploring possible techniques that could be used to successfully portray themes and ideas within our performance, as well as allowing each member of the group to display his or her skills. Research My background research was conducted with the aim to increasing my knowledge of subjects that we have decided to incorporate into our piece of drama. I researched the Muslim religion and it’s treatment of women.
I have collected evidence which suggests the oppression of Islamic women and evidence which suggests the freedom of Islamic women. To further this research, I have also collected information on feminism and different types of female oppression in the Western world, particularly from the media. The research I have collected must be viewed with sensitivity and a liberal attitude. I studied personal stories of members of minority religions living in different societies. Many of the accounts were positive, however a few depicted experiences of prejudice and discrimination.
This ranged from feelings of being an outsider to verbal and even physical attacks. We decided to incorporate a physical attack and its consequences into our piece to illuminate the full effect of racism. We displayed such aggression as a shock tatic with the view to heightening the emotions experienced by the audience. As a group, we researched the Muslim religion so our portrayal of the religion would be detailed and accurate, and would not cause offence. Many aspects were looked at, such as beliefs, traditions and clothing.
I found many of my own beliefs and impressions of the Islamic religion were incorrect. I had always considered Muslim women to be oppressed by their religion, however I found, like Yaz, the majority of Muslims are so by choice. I was also surprised to discover the high number of people from western worlds who convert to Islam, practice Islamic traditions, or transform due to an Islamic influence, which we reflected in the character of Scarlett. From our research, we learnt a lot about the practising of the Muslim religion both within and outside of Islam states.
We also learnt the reality of oppression, not only in religions and dictatorships, but also in the western world and ‘democratic’ societies. The research we conducted lead to the creation of our characaters. We have tried to break typical stereotypes – For example, the media often portrays Muslims negatively, depicting them either as possible terrorists or asylum seekers. We have purposefully and carefully constructed Yaz to be neither, which illustrates the belief that religion and race does not change the person that you are inside.
Our research into melodramas was conducted with the intention to creating one as successfully as possible. I looked at the definition and examples of melodramas, as well as their history and role in the theatre and cinema. Melodramatic flms are a sub-type of drama films, characterized by a plot to appeal to the heightened emotions of the audience. Melodrama was the primary form of theatre during the 19th century and become the most popular by 1840. Melodrama, a combination of drama and music, literally means, “play with music. The themes of dramas, the oldest literary and stage art form were exaggerated within melodramas, and the liberal use of music often enhanced their emotional plots. Melodramatic plots with emotional plots usually emphasise sensational situations or crises of human emotion, failed romance or friendship, strained familial situations, tragedy, or emotional and physical hardship within everyday life. Playwrights use melodramas to introduce controversial views without offending the audience, helping them to ask questions of life and society.
The group decided this genre was most suitable for the presentation of our themes and styles. Each charcater struggles with their own antagonist throughout the play, leading to all beginning an emotional journey. We have represented different ideas and emotions with the use of music, poetry, sound effects and both stylised and choreographed movement. However, Colourblind differs from a typical melodrama, which most often conclude with a happy ending. We felt this would be to clichi?? and thus opted for a sombre and more mysterious conclusion.
Although there are natural scenes within our performance, it cannot be consider naturalistic due to many of the techniques we have used. The use of music and poetry, actors’ playing multiple roles and verious techniques such as freezeframes and monologues creates a dramatic piece with surrealistic and symbolic attributes. Surrealism is an artistic and dramatic movement that aims for the liberation of the mind by emphasizing the critical and imaginative powers of the unconscious. It originated in early-twentieth century Europe.
Surrealism was a revolutionary movement encompassing actions intended to advance radical political, social, cultural and personal change. This mirrors the aim of Colourblind to advance social and personal beliefs on each of our themes – oppression, racism and social pressures. Skills Development We planned our rehersal time so the majority would be spent improvising and acting. When we began to devise Colourblind, our lessons were begun with a warm-up and a lengthy discussion about possible ideas and characaters, which was combined with trying our ideas out.
Once we established a basic plot and our charcaters, our lessons were constructed by beginning with a warm-up, a short discussion and the rest of the lesson spent rehearsing scenes and improvising. We felt the piece would be stronger if created from trial and error. Communication between group members is vital to produce a professinal and high-standard working environment. Every decision must be approached as a group and each idea discussed openly and fairly. Each member of the group will have an equal input at all times.
Feedback is also essential in the development and improvement of our ideas and final performance. Feedback will be welcomed by both members of our group and members of other groups, as well as from our teacher. We will focus on positive feedback; realising negativity can cause tensions between group members. Our ideas include various different techniques and styles, which give each character the chance to show both individual and group skills. As a group, we work well together, which we represented by our use of stylised and choreographed movement. We also made sure each characater interacted with every other.
I consider the use of movement as one of my strengths, which can lead to the presentation of a strong character. My strengths also include certain facial expressions, such as fear and hurt. I have incorporated these into a scene in which Yaz becomes very emotional. However, I need to increase my voice projection. I think this weakness stems from a lack of confidence on stage, which can be overcome with confidence-building exercises. I also need to increase my use of facial expressions to depict a larger range of emotions, which we are incorporating into our piece.
I must consider the vocal Skills needed to authentically create Yaz as a characater. I need not change my accent, as firstly we have not placed the play in any particular part of the country decreasing the need for use of certain accents. Secondly, Yaz was born and brought-up in the same area as Scarlett and Mel so their accents should match, which they naturally do due to the group members living in the same area. Yaz is has been brought up in a religious and moral household, and is therefore softly spoken. She will speak relatively quietly at all times, except those when she is very angry or upset.
At this point her voice chould become louder and she should speak faster, which contridicts her normally quiet personality and therefore illuminates her emotions even more. Pauses can be used sparingly to create moments of tension in scenes such as Yaz, Mel and Scarlett’s first meeting and a later scene where Yaz persuades Mel to forgive her father for the attack. Projection should be used at all times by Yaz and the other group members because of the need to be heard by the whole audience in the large hall in which we are performing.
Physical skills needed to create my characater include use of body movement, facial expressions, gestures and use of space. When Yaz meets Mel and Scarlett, her body language is defensive, for example, she crosses her legs away from the girls, and twists her body away from them to represent her nervousness. Before her attack, Yaz uses relaxed body language, however this is comparative with scenes after the attack, in which Yaz often crosses her arms across her chest, and walks with her shoulders hunched – symbolising her protectiveness over her body and fear of another attack.
Her movements become smaller and faster, showing how edgy she has become. This is similar to the use of facial expressions in the creation of Yaz. At the beginning of the performance, she often smiles, which shows her positive nature. Whereas after her attack, her eye movement reflects her unease at being out in public and she bites her lip that could be seen as a sign of fear. She is a naturally gentle and slightly shy person so her gestures throughout the play are small and gradual. Techniques i will use to create my character include ‘magic if’, hot seating, and the use of emotion memory.
Stanislavski created both the ‘magic if’ and emotion memory in his pursuit of authentic characters. The most fundamental principle of Stanislavski’s teaching is that the actor must live the life of the character that he is portraying, he must learn to think like the character and behave as the character would, therefore the portrayal is not confined to the performance but will, to some degree, begin to overlap into the actor’s own life. The ‘Magic if’ asks the actor to consider their emotions and actions in certain situations, which their character is likely to be put in.
For example, for the creation of Yaz, I asked myself what I would do if I were discriminated against because of my race or religion. Doing this helped me devise possible reactions and also create a more genuine characater. The use of emotional memory to create a character consists of recalling a time when you felt a certain emotion so you can imagine how your character is feeling at certain points of the performance. This is used to make a character appear more genuine. I have used this techniques in rehersals and found it useful in very emotional scenes such as when yaz is disucssing the racial attack.
Here I recall feelings of hurt, fear and anger from my past to authentically re-create these emotions on stage. Hot seating was used by all group members in rehersals to produce each characters history and background. We found it especially useful to getting into our roles in rehersals and before performances. Development and Evaluation We had an internal assessment, in which we ran through our performance. Both feedback from our teacher and from the other members of the group suggested there were many things which we needed to re-consider or improve.
The changes we have made have aimed to enhance the performance and increased the enjoyment of the audience. We feel we have successfully improved the performance and carry on to do so every rehersal. We found we had an over-reliance on dialogue with which to convey our message and therefore added more techniques in place of naturalistic conversations. It was suggested that our use of monologues was predictable. To overcome this, each member of the group was allocated a limelight moment in which we chose other techniques to convey our skills.
We used one monologue, movement, music and poetry as an alternative. We found this to increase the range of skills we could show and therefore it worked greatly to our advantage. We felt our performance was too static throughout. To combat this we made some changes. We increased our movement on stage, thinking carefully about blocking to ensure characters are always visable and sound is never obstructed. We also decided to lengthen the performance. Firstly, we felt that it was too short and secondly, we realised that the plot was missing certain links to make the piece consistent.
We added two scenes to overcome both of these problems. Due to the extensive rehersing the characters have progressed rapidly. The background and details of the characters has developed further each rehersal and each character has become stronger throughout the process. Our group has successfully worked together to create Colourblind. We relied on communication, an open mind and patience to do so. As a team, we have supported each other throughout the rehersal process, the writing of our portfolios and the final presentation.
Although we have also worked independantly and shown our personal skills, this would not have been possible if we had not worked together. I feel our original aims have been successfully completed. We have devised an educational, yet entertaining piece, which is successful in making people aware of false stereotypes. It also questions the audience’s values and beliefs. Our aims have progressed to portraying the Muslim faith, domestic violence and racism, as well as other sensitive subjects, as honestly and openly as possible, whilst treating each subject delicately and with as much accuracy as possible.
Health and Safety Health and safety should be considered at all times. There are general rules, which should always be followed to ensure a safe working environment; Each person is responsible for both their safety and that of others. For example, behaving in a responsible manner is necessery throughout all rehersals and the performance and a careful and considerate approach should be taken at all times, for example; the stabilty of raised areas should be checked before use.
Communication between group members and members of staff is very important in creating a safe area in which to reherse. No person should take excessive risks without supervision and if a potential hazard is recognised, attention from a member of staff should be drawn towards it immediately. Whilst rehersing, the group should partake it both vocal and physical warm-up’s to avoid injuring ourselves. We should always wear loose fitting and comfortable clothes and avoid walking around in bare feet due to the chance of props and pieces of set lying around.
Whilst rehersing, we must always make sure loose wires, sharp corners and objects are safely covered or removed entirely incase of potential accidents. The group should all be made aware of cables and wiring, which should be taped at all times and power should not be switched on unless necessery. No naked flames should be used without the supervision of a member of staff and the location of fire exits should be made known to each person. Individually, and as a group I feel we have successfully followed the health and safety guidelines and never knowingly put ourselves or another person in danger.